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Author Archive | Jakir Manela

jakir-manela

A Prayer for our Country

Friends, Today, the Supreme Court of the United States, in their ruling on the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) case, stripped the EPA’s authority to limit carbon pollution from power plants, drastically reducing our ability to fight climate change. This ruling takes us in the exact opposite, wrong direction: increasing emissions and accelerating climate catastrophes. And though we are all impacted, those hit hardest by this ruling are our most vulnerable fellow Americans: low-income Black & Brown communities living near power plants and harmed by environmental injustices. We find this court’s ruling – gutting the EPA’s ability to curtail the existential threat of carbon emissions – to be morally and religiously unconscionable. And this comes, of course, on the heels of a rather devastating few days, as last week the Supreme Court first eroded states’ abilities to enact gun safety regulations, and then overturned Roe vs Wade, effectively ending the federal protections for the right to an abortion. We are rocked by these rulings, and want to share the Jewish Council for Public Affairs statement on gun safety here, and invite you to join us in supporting our partners at the National Council for Jewish Women. So it’s […]

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Od Lo Avdah Tikvatenu, Our Hope is Not Yet Lost

Today is Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, the 74th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel in 1948. Yesterday was Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance, a day for grieving the loss of 24,000 fallen Israeli soldiers and 4,000 civilians killed in terrorist attacks over the years. In Palestinian society, Yom Ha’Atzmaut is known as the Nakba-Catastrophe, mourning the 1948 loss of Palestinians’ homeland and the displacement of a majority of the Palestinian people. For me, these days–back to back and inside-out–are the most powerful holy day(s) of the year. And especially in the diaspora, how do we relate to this land, this country, and this time of year? Really, how do we orient to all of this? And not just personally but organizationally – for Hazon & Pearlstone – how do we approach our relationship to Israel, and Palestine? This is just the beginning of a long journey, but I want to take this opportunity to share our orientation to these important questions. Our mission is to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life. We connect people to the earth and to each other, catalyzing culture change and systemic change through […]

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Yom HaShoah | Legacy & Responsibility

Friends, Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. One of my early memories is the moment my father told me that almost all of our family–his parents’ families–were murdered in the Holocaust.  My grandparents, Saul & Lonia, grew up in Lodz, Poland. They lived through the ghetto and the camps, the death marches, and found each other in an American army-operated displaced persons camp in Germany after the war. They fell in love, got married, and had their first child–my aunt Blanche–while still living in the camp. Eventually, with support from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, they came to America, arriving at Ellis Island and then welcomed into the Pittsburgh Jewish community where they began a new life. That’s when my dad was born.  My legal name is Jeremy K Manela; my Hebrew name is Jakir (pronounced Yakir), because I am named after my great-grandfather, Jakir Kompel, Lonia’s father. Jakir died in the gas chambers at Birkenau. Grandma survived, and somehow found the strength with Grandpa to live on, find love, build a family, and give with all her heart all her life. I remember being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Pittsburgh as a young child–we really loved that […]

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Freedom, Wandering, & Resilience

“In every generation, one must see oneself as if one had personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt.” – Passover Haggadah  Friends, Like our ancestors leaving Egypt – beginning the long desert wandering – we face daunting years and decades ahead. The Israelites rejoiced with the Song of the Sea: we’re free! And then we walked out into the wilderness, not knowing what lay ahead. Moshe, Miriam, and Aharon led us: first to the mountain, and eventually home. It was a long and winding trail, both traumatic and transformative. Today, we are horrified by war crimes in Ukraine, tyranny and fascism on the rise, and fossil fuel profits propping up a new Pharoah. So this Pesach, we celebrate spring renewal and commit to a deeper freedom – a global transformation of epic proportions. The fight for democracy and decarbonization is not going to be quick or easy; the path to freedom takes us through the wilderness. Science tells us that we are embarking upon a lot more than 40 years of wandering in the deserts of climate crisis. So as we enter this wilderness together, let us summon our will and our strength; our perseverance, resourcefulness, and resilience; our tenacity, our […]

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Purim is True

Friends, What is Purim? And Have We All Gone Mad? Purim is everywhere. A masquerade. A feast. A time of drinking and debauchery. Why? The unbridled joy of early spring? Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die? G!d…not mentioned once. G!d’s deafening absence in our first story of Exile. How do we survive in the Diaspora? Well…no one is coming to rescue us. We must keep faith in the darkness. And accept that empire persists. We reckon again with old, old hatreds. Amalek attacks. Grave danger, violence, evil surrounds us. Will salvation come? Purim is everywhere.   Before starting to read the megillah (Book of Esther/Purim story) to the kids at dinner last night, I first read the Torah verses connected with Purim: “Amalek came and battled Israel…G!d maintains a war against Amalek, from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:8 and 17:16). Our son, Shama (12 years old), asked “Where is Amalek now?” Well, one particular dictator comes to mind, but it’s more complicated than that. Yes, Purim is real. In every generation there are those who rise up to destroy us. War rages in Ukraine; people need help. Our Hakhel Co-Directors, Rabbi Aharon Ariel Lavi and Michal […]

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Support our Partners in Ukraine

Friends, “War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”  – Thomas Mann We are heartbroken and outraged as Putin’s merciless war on Ukraine continues. We will not be silent, and we will do all we can to support our partners impacted on the ground. At Hazon and Hakhel, we have a three-part strategy in responding to this crisis: Local Leadership: Ukrainian leaders know their landscape and their needs. We are following the lead of Hakhel community leaders inside Ukraine and local rabbis working with refugees on the borders. Collaboration & Partnership: We are partnering with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the European Council of Jewish Communities, Reut, the Jewish Peoplehood Coalition, and more, coordinating our collective crisis response efforts. Global Response: We can all do something to help. The situation is rapidly evolving, both in terms of needs and solutions, all of which require resources and support. Sometimes our Ukrainian partners need volunteers, sometimes they need equipment, and throughout the process they need financial resources. Here are just a few examples of what this strategy looks like on the ground: Following up on our weekly meeting with our Ukrainian partners, we received the list of needs from the Lvov […]

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How We Can Help Our Partners in Ukraine

Friends, We have watched, horrified, as Putin’s Russia has invaded Ukraine, causing bloodshed, destruction, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people fleeing. What you may not know is that Hazon operates a global Jewish intentional community network called Hakhel that includes communities in Ukraine. For the past five years, the Hakhel network has engaged leaders and innovative communities doing great things in Ukraine, in all major cities: Kiev, Harkov, Lvov, Odessa, and Dnepro. They were there before this crisis and they will outlast it, doing amazing things in Jewish education, community building, culture and social activism. Friday morning, our Hakhel Director, Aharon Ariel Lavi, organized a call for the Hakhel network to hear directly from these Ukrainian Jewish leaders. You can watch the entire meeting here. If you read Hebrew, you might also like this piece on yNet, Israel’s largest news website, covering our efforts. If you would like to get involved and stay informed, please register here. These action items emerged from that call: Supporting Refugees: A delegation is going tomorrow to Kishinyev, Moldova, to support the local Rabbi in attending over 500 refugees, 200 of whom are children. We expect to receive more requests for delegations. Hakhel communities […]

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We Are One: Tu B’Shvat and MLK, Sustainability & Justice

Friends, We find ourselves immersed in another dark pandemic winter, a reality we could not have fathomed two years ago. And as the pandemic drags on, our social fabric continues to fray, while the climate crisis continues unabated. Then, into this moment comes the Texas synagogue hostage incident, thankfully unfolding without any hostage injuries or deaths, yet still traumatic for all involved, and for Jewish communities – and our allies – everywhere. It is difficult to avoid feeling overwhelmed and exhausted amidst times like these. Last night, we held an online event with hundreds of people from across the country, entitled We Are One: An Environmental Justice Tu B’Shvat Seder, honoring Tu B’Shvat– the New Year for the Trees – and Martin Luther King Jr Day, our American prophet of racial justice, civil rights, and nonviolent civil disobedience. During our seder, Janna Siller, Adamah Farm Director & Advocacy Coordinator, spoke of Tu B’Shvat as a deep accounting of our relationship with the Trees and with the Earth. MLK Day presents a similar obligation, to undertake a deep accounting of our society.  Such an accounting is called cheshbon hanefesh in Hebrew, an accounting of the soul. Tu B’Shvat demands a new year’s accounting […]

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COP26: Hope & Despair

Friends, I recently returned from COP26 – the United Nations Conference on Climate Change – and it was an unforgettable experience. The number of people, events, issues, spaces…it was truly one of the most complex, multifaceted, and profound events I’ve ever seen. Leaders and activists from across the globe, dozens of languages, a beautiful tapestry of faith communities  – negotiating, teaching, learning, and sharing – trying to turn the tide towards a sustainable future. Join us this Sunday, November 21st, 8pm ET, as we ask “Now What? A Post-COP26 Conversation with Elders.” Together we will take stock: what happened in Glasgow, where does that leave us, and where do we go from here? We will learn from our Elders  – Ruth Messinger and Rabbi Arthur Waskow  – and break out into small group discussions lead by an amazing cadre of Jewish environmental leaders. If ever there was a need for a movement-wide town hall, this is it. Please join us!  Throughout my journey, and since my return, I have been surprised to feel… hope. It started just before I left, when I saw this beautiful rainbow in the sky above Pearlstone: But hope is hard to come by these days. Leading […]

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Greetings from Glasgow, Scotland

Friends, I just arrived in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP26, happening today through Nov. 12. Many have said that this gathering of world leaders may be our last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Hazon’s visionary founder, Nigel Savage, will be meeting me there – he’s traveling from Israel – and together we will join about 25 other formal Jewish delegates from around the world, including Israel, as part of a massive crowd of 20,000 people attending the formal negotiations and side events, not to mention marches, protests, and other activities. Together we will bring a strong Jewish voice to this momentous gathering with such far-reaching implications. And we’ll also be hosting an Eco-Shabbat vegetarian dinner for the Jews at a nearby synagogue. My kids – and their future – are on my mind as I take this journey, along with young people everywhere. I was deeply moved and inspired by the moral clarity and passion shown by leaders of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement when I spoke with them Thursday night – watch the video here. But of course, this is not just about the Jews. Our Jewish delegation is part of […]

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Moments of Truth: Climate, Antisemitism, & Justice

Friends, We arrive at a moment of truth, and we must push through. Join us for one final effort, calling for transformative climate investments in emerging federal legislation, on our Day of Action this Thursday, October 28th. We pray that our elected officials get this done. World leaders are gathering for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland (COP26). Many say this is our last chance to avoid runaway climate change and the pain and suffering, social and economic upheaval it will bring.  Join us Thursday night for a COP26 Conversation with the Jewish Youth Climate Movement. Then, Nigel Savage and I will be broadcasting a Sound the Call podcast series from the conference in Scotland, sharing highlights and interviewing leaders of our multifaith climate movement. After COP26 ends, join us to debrief and process through a Conversation with leaders of the Jewish environmental movement, Sunday evening, November 14th. Together we will gain perspective from veterans of our movement, with breakout rooms for more intimate small group discussion. And there is another truth we must face together: antisemitism on the rise and in our midst. A week ago, the DC Chapter of the Sunrise Movement – a climate justice […]

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Climate Action NOW with Hazon & Dayenu

Friends, Hazon works alongside many strong partners across the Jewish world and beyond, and moving forward we are honored to feature our allies as guest writers for our newsletter. To start off this partnership series, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn introduces Dayenu and the critically important role we can all play in fighting for strong climate action now!  Jakir Manela CEO, Hazon After more than 20 years working as a rabbi mobilizing the American Jewish community around issues of social, economic, and racial justice issues, I have come to understand the climate crisis as the existential crisis of our time. And at its core, it is a question of equity and justice – even as climate change affects everyone, historically marginalized communities bear the brunt of its impacts. We launched Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Action 18 months ago, to help build a multi-generational movement of American Jews confronting the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action. We mobilize Jewish support for climate solutions, build collective power, and raise up a spiritual, religious, and moral voice in the national and global climate movements. A growing grassroots network and diverse partner organizations are joining Dayenu campaigns to advance comprehensive climate policy, leverage communal power in key moments, press candidates and elected […]

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The Story of Creation

Friends, This past week we read the Creation story twice: once during Simchat Torah then again over Shabbat, the first of the new annual Torah reading cycle, known as Shabbat Breishit. I love the early chapters of the book of Genesis, and so, during the last shmita year in 2014, I began using the first chapter of Genesis-Breishit as a Shabbat bedtime story for our kids. Lying in bed with Lev and Shama, we shared in the story of the first seven days, of the gifts of Creation and Shabbat. What is so powerful about this story? For me, it is the simple, elemental wisdom of seder breishit, the sense of order in Creation. That everything has its place, that we are all part of an interconnected orchestra of life, or as the classic Teva song puts it, that All G!d’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir. David Attenborough’s 2020 documentary film, A Life on Planet Earth, brings seder breishit to life through a moving portrayal of the natural order, of our massive imperiling impact on the living world, and the urgent need for global change across human cultures and societies. I encourage you to bring people together to […]

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Beginning a new chapter, together

Friends,  I step into the Hazon CEO role with deep gratitude for everything that has been built over the past 21 years, and with great appreciation for the amazing staff, boards, and supporters of Hazon, Isabella Freedman, and Pearlstone. Together, we have helped spark a transformative movement with powerful potential. The Jewish Environmental Movement is clearly one of the strongest, most vibrant streams in Jewish life today. We now have further reach than ever before, so as we face the global climate crisis, together we are poised to multiply our impact and catalyze social, environmental, and spiritual change across the Jewish world and beyond. Like a havdalah candle, our movement weaves together multiple interrelated strands: JOFEE, Jewish Retreating, the Jewish Food Movement, Jewish Community Farming, Climate Activism & Advocacy, the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, Jewish Intentional Communities, and more. Each strand has had tremendous impact already, and now we have a profound opportunity to manifest our ambitious mission: to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life, in order to create a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable world for all. As we embark upon this new chapter and awesome task ahead, I want you to […]

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